A Summary of the Six Key Components of the Original 1975 IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act)
The Individuals with Disability Education Act (IDEA) was signed into law in 1975; however, it was originally called 1975 Education for all Handicapped Children Act (EHA) or Public Law 94-142. Before the development of the act, many disabled children were denied access to education and very few schools allowed in public schools.
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Under the Act, the US has a goal of ensuring that all youths develop into independent, responsible, and respectable people in the society (Gargiulo, 2010 p.33). Therefore, the Act was developed to protect the rights and meet the needs of disabled children and their parents, as well as ensuring that all children got equal opportunity in education in the United States (Lain, 2006, p.1).
This original IDEA had six key components, which include free and appropriate public education(FAPE), individualized education plan(IEP), nondiscriminatory evaluation and Identification, the least restrictive environment(LRE), procedural due process and parental participation(Lee, 2005, p.259).
The first important component of IDEA 1975 is free and appropriate public education (FAPE). FAPE implies that all the children with disabilities should have access to the special education and special services that they need irrespective of the severity of their disability conditions. This special education should be provided at the public cost and should equally meet state’s education standards (Tenor865, 2009).
It requires a proper definition of the educational placement, services and setting that are most appropriate for students with disabilities (Lee, 2005, p.259). FAPE ensures that parents of such children do not pay for the special education and services that are offered to their children.
The other component is nondiscriminatory testing and evaluation. This provides that, an unprejudiced assessment criterion should be applied to decide if a child qualifies to be provided with special education services (Lee, 2005).Not all disabled children qualify for services offered under the IDEA act, those with mere disabilities are usually left out.
Only children with visual impairment, mental retardation, auditory impairment, language and speech impairment and those with severe emotional disturbance can qualify the services offered under IDEA. It also defines the kind of placement that can be used for a given child, depending on the type of need recorded. The assessment should be done by trained and qualified staff before a child with disability can start receiving special education (Tenor864, 2009, p.2).
It is aimed at ensuring that children are not prejudiced based on their cultural, racial, or language differences. It avoids overrepresentation of a particular group of people in the institutions that give these special needs services. This is particularly essential since most districts find high number of minority children enrolled in the special education schools (Lee, 2005, p.259).
The individualized education plan (IEP) is another important component of the IDEA. Children have differing disabilities and different children will require different learning services and needs. Moreover, each student has specific learning goals and will require specific learning modifications and this should be put in consideration.
The development of the IEP is required to optimize learning for each student and requires a joint work by a team comprising of parents, educational personal, and students in certain instances to develop a student education plan. The motive is to find the type of services needed by a particular student (Tenor864, 2009).
Least restrictive environment is another component, which is concerned with the establishment of an independent and friendly learning environment for students receiving special needs and services where they can realize their full potential. This component of IDEA makes sure that handicapped children are educated along their fellow non-disabled children (Tenor864, 2009).
The component provides that the children should have access to independent environment and be subjected to regular lessons as far as the disability condition can allow. The children can be subjected to residential treatment or they can be subject to full inclusions depending on their needs (Lee, 2005, p.259).
The procedural due process is another component that ensures that the principles outlined in the act are completely followed by schools. The section provides for the rights of people concerned to be involved in the entire program. This includes the disabled children and their families, teachers, psychologists and other pertinent persons.
The component “allows the parent to be represented by legal counsel, and to ask for an impartial trial if there is a disagreement about their child’s educational plan” (Tenor864, 2009, p.2). With this component, parents of children with disabilities have the right to reach the records of their children and make sure that the records are confidential (Tenor864, 2009).
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The parents have the right to take part in IEP and should also be informed of any possible changes in the services, for instance, a change of the individualized education plan, a change in placement, or a shift in educational class of the child (Tenor64, 2009). It has the legal provisions for solving the differences between families and schools providing these special needs and services. Procedural safeguards are very important because they protect the rights for both the children and their parents.
The other component is parental participation, which provides for the inclusion of parents in educational decision-making and setting of the learning objectives for children with disabilities and generally in IEP development (Lee, 2005, p.259). Much of the intervention to help a child with disabilities should follow the consent of parents or any other people responsible for the child.
Parents should be informed more often of their children’s situation in schools and they must be consulted before any action about their children like new placements or change of services is taken. In addition, this component of IDEA ensures that parents are consulted before any disciplinary action is taken on their children.
Summary of the Key Components of the Later IDEA Reauthorization
The IDEA has had several developments since its inception. Changes have been necessary to understand how laws can be put into practice and the necessary adjustments that can make them efficient and effective (LD Online, 2011).
Public Law 99-457 (1986)
One of the major changes that followed the 1986 amendment of the Education for all Handicapped Children Act was the addition of the infant and toddler component. This was characterized by provision of more services to infants and young children with disabilities from birth to the age of five.
This was made possible by incorporation of a new pre-school program grant program which increased the money allocated to disabled children between three to five years of age by threefold (Cengage Learning, 2011a). Two parts, B and H, had the particular provisions on these interventions.
The developments included an establishment of interagency council on early intervention which lead to the establishment of Early Intervention Program(EIP), the development of individualized family service plans(IFSPs) which join families in nurturing their handicapped children, promotion of public awareness programs on possible interventions, and putting families as the center of focus in these programs (Cengage Learning, 2011a).
There were also concerns on safeguard rules and effective transition of families between different systems and reduction of the likelihood of putting disabled children in various institutions while at the same time nurturing their potential for independent living in the society.
Public Law 101-476 (1990)
Amendment in 1990 saw the change in the name of the law. The law was there before known as Education for all Handicapped Children Act (EHA) and was renamed Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) in 1990, its main aim being recognizing the child with disability (Cengage Learning, 2011b). Under the new provision, the term handicapped was removed and victims were termed as “children with learning disabilities.”
The other important amendment was on the eligibility criteria. In effect, autism and traumatic brain injury were introduced as other exceptionally categories (Cengage Learning, 2011b). The amendments also provided for transition planning between systems and services for disabled children at the age of sixteen.
Another amendment to the act at this time was the definition of Assistive Technology Devices and Services (ATDS) for the disabled children which can be included in the Individual Education Plan (IEP). Lastly, there were also concerns to extend the least restrictive environment so that children are educated along non-disable children (AT Laws, 2012).
Public Law 105-17 (1997)
This amendment yielded the most important changes for the IDEA, with the law being restructured from nine to four subchapters (Cengage Learning, 2011c). Other developments included much emphasis on the roles of the parents and families, students and other education stakeholders in promoting IEP programs for the students with disabilities.
The amendment provided clarity on the extent to which the children with disabilities can be disciplined by the teachers in schools (AT Laws, 2012). The access to general education was also emphasized under the amendments.
On the use of Assistive Technology and Devices and Services to aid in IEP, amendments were made to allow these devices to be used in various setting like at homes to make sure the students get fair and appropriate education. In addition, the act emphasized that teachers should include orientation and mobility services to specific students particularly those with visual and auditory impairment when using assistive technology and devices in IEP (AT Laws, 2012).
IDEA 2004: Public Law 108-446
This amendment marked the final regulations on IDEA being the last amendment that has been made. The IDEA 2004 has four sections – A, B, C, and D. The first section defines the terms as used in the law and section B outlines how to source funds from the federal government to aid the eligible students with disabilities (LD Online, 2011).
This defines the eligibility criteria and mechanisms for evaluation. Section C entails early intervention programs for the infants and toddlers with disabilities whereas the last section focuses on how educational agencies can work effectively with these children with disabilities indeed the amendments on the act at this time allowed the disabled children to take part in various operations and programs under the IDEA(US Department of Education, 2008).
IDEA amendment in 2004, allowed local government agencies to conduct child find activities and make sure that there is fair distribution of resources among the handicapped children in their locality.
In addition local government agencies were allowed to deliver special services to private schools and to decide the right amount of money to spend on the disabled children in their area. Lastly, the amendments of the act in 2004 lead to the corporation of new consultation rules for private schools which host disabled children (U.S Department of Education, 2008).
Summary of IDEA Guidelines of Referring Students with Suspected Disabilities
The first step involves identifying a child needing special education and services. This can be done through child find which consists of government agents who identifies disabled children in each state and through referral by a parent or other people who wants a child to be evaluated for disability.
Secondly, the chosen child is then evaluated for the disability. The consent of the parent to a child suspected of disability is necessary in the initial evaluation of the child. Evaluation is a vital step in referring children with suspected disabilities because with this it is possible to know whether the child is eligible to special needs and services. Parents are can call for reevaluation of their child if they are dissatisfied with the results obtained (National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities, 2011).
The third step is to decide whether the child is eligible for the special education and services based on the evaluation results. A certain level of disability is required for a child to qualify for the special education and services under IDEA. As a result not all disabled children are eligible for the special education and services but those with extreme disabilities.
At this stage, parents may be summoned to hear eligibility decision made on their children. After determination of eligibility of the child, within a month a team is selected to focus on the child and set up Individual Education Plan for the child. An IEP team meeting is then organized; this meeting is attended by teachers, psychologists, special teachers and other pertinent persons who have knowledge about the child.
The meeting is then held and the IEP team determines the best services to offer to the child. All this is done with the consent of the parent and if they disagree, their mediation and options may be considered.This step culminates with a well written IEP for the child (National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities, 2011).
Provision of services to the child then follows; special education and services are provided to the child based on the IEP. All the parties involved are given a copy of the child IEP for them to know their responsibilities which include: modifications, accommodations and support.
The parties include; parents, teachers and special service providers who have the responsibility of supporting the child daily through various means. Services are offered to the child for a given period after which a progress report is filled by IEP team. Reports are prepared and presented to the parents and other concerned people occasionally to determine effectiveness of the IEP to the child. With these reports, the IEP is reviewed and amendments can be done on it for the benefit of the child.
Normally, IEP review is done on annual basis unless parents request for frequent reviews. The last step is to review the child to know how he/she is progressing. This review is usually done after every three years although the review can be done more often if situations demand that or on parent or on teacher request (National Dissemination center for Children with Disabilities, 2011).
Some Other Intervention Concepts
In accomplishing the above procedures, certain procedures also need to be followed as interventions to help the children with disabilities. The referral process may be detailed and time consuming; however, there is enough evidence indicating eligibility. In this case, an intervention can be given while the evaluation process is underway – this is termed as pre-referral interventions.
The identification of disability, evaluation for eligibility, and the subsequent delivery of the special need services involve the participation of different people including educational professionals, parents, students (in possible cases) and other education stakeholders. If the child is found eligible, parents and educators have to meet to arrange for individualized education program to help the child (National Dissemination center for Children with Disabilities, 2011).
Meetings are held between the parents and educators to discuss the conditions such as placement of special services. There is also a need to cascade service delivery options. This intervention is necessary due to the different needs met by children with disabilities. It involves developing a learning environment that accommodates all children by ensuring that the instructor provides special attention to the students with special education needs.
Early intervention concepts should also be put in place by use of early education programs which are useful in identification of children with disability. Young children are unable to speak and due to that, they only express themselves by crying, pushing or even gesturing. Some children have a challenging behavior which does not respond to efforts of early educators and parents who find it hard to meet the children needs.
This lot of children may need an individualized plan where they will be monitored closely to find out their problems in time. This is very important for social and mental development and can be used to identify children with special needs who can benefit from the provisions of the IDEA (National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities, 2011).
Early intervention services are also referred to as part C services provided under the IDEA act. These measures are there for infants who are handicapped or have developmental delay. Such children are evaluated to decide their eligibility to receive early intervention measures.
AT Laws. (2012). Special Education Laws and Legislation. Web.
Cengage Learning. (2011a). The Education for All Handicapped Children Act Amendments of 1986 (PL 99-457). Web.
Cengage Learning. (2011b). The Education for All Handicapped Children Act Amendments of 1990 (PL 101-476). Web.
Cengage Learning. (2011c). The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act Amendments of 1997 (PL 105-17). Web.
Gargiulo, R. (2010). Special Education in Contemporary Society: An Introduction to Exceptionality. Fourth Edition. Thousands Oaks: SAGE
Lain. (2006). IDEA: A Breakdown of Its Components, Amendments, and Referral Process. Web.
Lee, S. (2005). Encyclopedia of school psychology. Thousand Oaks: SAGE
National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities. (2011). 10 Basic Steps in Special Education. Web.
Tenor864. (2009). A Look at the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. Web.
U.S Department of Education. (2008).The Individuals withDisabilities Education Act: Provisions Related with Children with disabilities Enrolled by their Parents in Private Schools. Washington DC. Web.